County, Libby adopt FY2019 budgets

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After holding public hearings where no one from the public came to be heard, the City of Libby and Lincoln County passed fiscal year 2019 budgets last week.

With a 3-0 vote on Sept. 5, the Lincoln County Commission approved a $14,803,621 total budget with appropriations that are about $600,000 less than last year’s budget — the second consecutive county budget to be trimmed to such an extent.

County Administrator Darren Coldwell praised department heads’ repeated ability to scour “everything from paper clips to staples to copy paper” to find ways to spend less money.

“We continue to find things (to cut) we didn’t know existed,” said Commissioner Mike Cole.

Other bright spots Coldwell noted were increases in cash reserves and property tax revenues, despite a .5 percent decrease in the valuation of a mill.

The total budget figure includes cash reserves of $713,155 and $484,424 in revenue transfers.

With a 6-0 vote on Sept. 4, the Libby City Council approved a total budget of $7,680,655.68 that includes an increase in appropriations of $1,027,284 over last year.

A number of factors were behind the increase, and not all of them increases in expenditures, said City Clerk and Treasurer Audray McCollum.

For example, the city is required to include proceeds from grants and the gas tax in its appropriations. For FY2019, those amount to $503,515, she said.

Factors behind the remainder of the increased appropriations included increases in workers compensation and electricity costs of 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively, and using $140,000 in reserve funds for street projects — an amount that isn’t offset by revenue, McCollum explained.

The total budget figure includes cash reserves of $2,127,409 and $969,531 in bond requirements.

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